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Adult education: Volkshochschule Bonn begins new semester online

Adult education : Volkshochschule Bonn begins new semester online

The VHS adult educational institution is preparing itself out for a return to face-to-face teaching. The decision lies with the state of NRW.

The next semester programme is ready, but the Bonn Adult Education Centre (VHS) is facing some difficulties. The start of the semester on 22 February is fast approaching, but a stricter lockdown looms.

"At the moment, I assume that we will initiate the semester in online format and will be able to continue it later face-to-face," says VHS Director Ingrid Schöll. They are prepared for all eventualities. Ultimately, however, the hands of the VHS are tied: The form in which the semester will take place is decided upon by the state. This is due to the fact that adult education centres (Volkshochschulen) come under the responsibility of the state of NRW. "When the state government says we have to open, we open," Schöll stresses. “We have to reckon with very short-term decisions from Düsseldorf.”

The past year has been very labour-intensive for VHS staff, because as many courses as possible had to be converted to online teaching. For this reason, there was no so-called short time working (Kurzarbeit) at the VHS, the system where the government partially compensates for enforced reduced working hours. “I am especially glad that our teachers did not leave us in the lurch,” says Schöll. They have been very receptive to converting our offering to online teaching, she explains.

Online teaching is difficult to implement however in some subject areas offered by the VHS. This is the case, for example, for art and culture courses, explains Tillmanns. "We had to cancel a lot of courses again, especially in art practice.” At the same time, there is a high demand. When the courses were temporarily allowed to continue last summer, there were very long waiting lists, she says.

Over 400 language courses on offer

Despite all the adversities, the VHS is continuing to offer a varied programme in the upcoming semester. More than 400 language courses in almost 30 different languages are planned. One of the focal points will be the topic "Agriculture and Food" as part of the series on the United Nations global sustainability goals. "We chose this topic because the food industry is the largest producer of greenhouse gases," says Director Schöll. In addition, the pandemic has increased interest in cooking topics. The VHS Digital Academy is also being continued. One of the main topics here is the market for influencers.

"A major problem for us, however, is that we can only distribute our course catalogue to a very limited extent," Schöll adds. Places where the catalogue is normally available, such as shops or town halls, have closed for the time being. Schöll therefore hopes to find new outlets, such as supermarkets and drugstores. Copies of the catalogue can be picked up in front of the Haus der Bildung on Mühlheimer Platz and in front of the VHS branch in Bad Godesberg on Michaelshof. The catalogue is also available online (in German).

(Original text: Mat­thi­as Lo­renz, Translation: Caroline Kusch)